Windy Coulee Canadian Horses is situated on 160 acres of native grassland, 50 of which has been reclaimed in beautiful Pincher Creek, Alta. Heidi Eijgel has lived on the picturesque farm with her husband David Glass since 1996.
When the time came to buy some land, they wanted to seek out native grassland that they could protect. “Native prairie grassland outperforms tame grasses as a year-round forage giving our horse herd an advantage. Drought tolerant, diverse and tasty, the mixed grass prairie of SW Alberta is our secret ingredient to raising healthy and strong Canadian horses,” says Heidi.
Native grasslands go hand-in-hand with the national horse: the Canadian. Heidi had horses since the age of 10 and her intention had always been to raise Canadians. So, in 1992, she bought a Canadian yearling from Quebec.
Du Coteau Lalou Annabelle, or just Annabelle for short, was the inspiration behind what is now Windy Coulee Canadian Horses. And the farm has been getting quite a bit of publicity lately.
In August 2011, two of Heidi’s home-bred horses were sold to the Calgary Police Service Mounted Unit. It wasn’t until December when the announcement was made and the Calgary Police asked the public to vote on new names for the new mounts.
In January, five year old Windy Coulee Kamouraska Stryder and seven year old Windy Coulee Dawn Pippin were re-named Ranger and Rio, respectively.
Heidi comments, “As a breeder of Canadian Horses, I could not imagine a better career for a horse. I am thrilled they are going to be working partners for the officers in the mounted unit.”
Both close to 16 hands high and black, they are fitting right into the Mounted Unit. Rio is described as a gentleman and Ranger as fluid, athletic and magical.
It is no surprise that the two horses were picked for the Mounted Unit since Heidi likes to do everything possible with her horses from dressage, to jumping, to driving, to trail riding. “I don’t force my horses into a pigeonhole,” Heidi says, “I find what they like to do.”
Besides being the breeder of the new recruits, Heidi also wants to be known as a responsible land steward. “It’s not about making money or winning horse shows… although I do like to compete! It’s about taking care of the horses and taking care of the land,” comments Heidi.
Heidi is also passionate about sharing her knowledge of horses and the land. Every year for the past four years, she hosts summer students from all over the world as a part of Worldwide Opportunities on Organic Farms Canada (WWOOF Canada).
Quite often, the students come to her with little to no horse knowledge, but they leave with plenty. Less experienced riders always ride Luna, the mount all her guests start off on. “He’s so trustworthy and smart. He wouldn’t hurt anyone,” Heidi says.
Other volunteers arrive with plenty of riding experience. Heidi remembers one engineering student who was a circus performer from France that came to Canada to learn English. She took him up to Waterton National Parks to trail ride. Heidi glanced back at him down the trail to find him juggling on horseback. He rode Pippin (now known as Rio) for the whole month, and they got along very well, juggling and all!
In comparison to many breeders, Windy Coulee Canadian Horses is a smaller operation, with only 10 Canadians on the farm. They do not keep stallions, instead they match up their mares with stallions from other breeders. However, there are significantly less Canadian horses than other breeds.
“It’s nice to do something well than just breed on a large scale,” Heidi says. “It is our goal to raise and sell experienced older horses. That takes a lot more time and effort, but it is worth it when our horses are matched with the right human partners, and go on to have great careers.”